Part two of a two-part series
Those who help others need help themselves. That’s true for us as individuals, and it’s also true for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits need support from accountants, attorneys, artists, and yes – nonprofit professional associations. The latter is a resource that is not well known. Here’s one description of a nonprofit association: an organization that supports nonprofits in a geographic area, providing training and technical assistance, sector research, public policy support, and networking opportunities. That is exactly what Momentum Nonprofit Partners in Memphis, Tennessee does. In this column Dr. Kevin Dean, MNP’s executive director, shares what a nonprofit association can do, and how you can find one that serves your community.
The COVID pandemic reinforced MNP’s unique role in serving nonprofits and those that nonprofits serve. Dean summed up MNP’s recent impact. “COVID changed everything for us. Though we were primarily built to be a training and technical assistance organization, our work broadened during the pandemic. Nonprofit leaders were looking for support and answers, and they looked to us for those answers. It became very obvious to the board and staff that we needed to lean into public policy, advocacy, and resource provision. For example, nonprofits were desperate for masks early in the pandemic. We had the connections with the Shelby County government to get millions of masks directly into the hands of nonprofits for both their employees and their clients. We have been able to use our collective partner power to get big things done, whereas it would be far more difficult for nonprofits to find masks or fight a major bill alone. Because of COVID, our work is now bigger and more important than ever.”
Another example of their unique role and impact is the newly announced partnership with Christian Brothers University (CBU). Their shared goal is to help nonprofit professionals reach their maximum potential through access to graduate-level educational programs. To do this CBU is offering a 20% discount on graduate courses, programs, and certificates to individuals who are employed by organizations that are members of MNP.
MNP also brings nonprofits together with local and regional philanthropists, foundations, and consultants. This is not as easy as it may sound. “These are three very different groups with very different needs, yet at the same time our goal is to make sure they are aligned and on the same page regarding what’s needed, what the research says, and where we go from here.” That’s how Dean explains the balance. “We have programs for each of these groups so that they can be a part of our work and learn from one another. I still find it difficult to manage a room full of nonprofits, philanthropists, and consultants all together but it’s getting easier as we find new ways to put our shared interests and values front and center.”
This is not just about Memphis. There are regional and state nonprofit associations across the country providing similar supports. Dean recommends visiting the National Council of Nonprofits’ website and using the locator tool to find the nearest association. The website address is https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/find-your-state-association
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